Dear Supporters of Bialowieza Forest,
For winter the Camp for the Forest has moved to Teremiski (a village only a few kilometres from Bialowieza) where – thanks to good and open hearts of their friends – activists can stay is a roofed and warm building. Yet, it also means that the space and number of places available are more limited than before. Therefore, if you want to come and offer your help, please, do get in touch with the Camp, so that things can be arranged for you. A good way to do that might be an email sent at email@example.com.
Bialowieza Forest, the last natural lowland forest of Europe, is in danger.
If you care, don’t hesitate to show your support. It’s also your heritage! Be with us!
What is happening?
The year 2017 in Bialowieza Forest was a special one. After over 20 years of campaigning for protection of this unique forest in Poland, with some small successes on the way, the situation took a dramatic turn. The last primeval forest of lowland Europe, the UNESCO World Heritage site, the home to half of all European bison – was being devastated on an enormous scale.
The original excuse for the logging was the outbreak of the spruce bark beetle. In a primeval forest, such outbreaks happen every 10 years or so. The current one is bigger, due to climate change that makes spruces more prone to attack. Decaying spruce trees provide a habitat for numerous species which find it difficult to survive in a typical forest-plantation and also play a key role in natural forest regeneration. But for the State Forest Authorities it mainly means loss of timber, and as a consequence – loss of money.
This is why – for the first time in history – harvesters were hauled into the Forest. Such a machine is able to cut up to 300 trees daily. What’s more, the harvesters have entered the most precious parts of the forest, the tree stands which are over 100 years old. It is those tree stands that make Bialowieza Forest so unique because, until now, they were not subject to modern forestry. Bialowieza Forest constitutes just 0.6% of all Polish forest and is the last one that was not created through such a process. Despite this unique value, around 180 thousand trees were cut down in Bialowieza Forest throughout 2017.
What is done to help?
In 2017 the Camp for the Forest was set up to stop the devastation of this piece of wilderness and advocate for turning it into a national park.
While intensity of logging has (temporarily?) decreased, we still have plenty of things to do, both on-site and online. First of all, we continue to monitor the Forest, to know what is the current situation and be able to react quickly. We’re seeing more and more new plantations set up by foresters – which threats the continuity of natural processes even more than logging, but is more challenging in terms of building public willingness to react. Two weeks ago we’ve found out about an outraging plan to log in nature reserves in the Forest. We’ve launched an instant media campaign and staged a walk-in to disrupt the discussion about this plan. Thanks to our reaction it was postponed, but not fully dismissed. It means that we’ve to stay alarmed. And if the logging is back, we’ve to be ready to oppose it.
We are determined to achieve our ultimate goal – a National Park for the entire Bialowieza Forest (Currently, only 17% of the Polish part of Bialowieza Forest is protected as a National Park. The remaining 83% is managed by State Forest Authorities). Knowing that attitude of many locals is one of main barriers to the Park’s enlargement, we’re working with the community. We do informal education for kids, we’re creating a platforms for discussion about the region’s future, we’re trying to overcome a negative cliché of an environmentalist, by engaging in everyday, direct contact with our neighbours. It’s a long way ahead, but changing people’s attitudes creates a far more stable ground for improved protection regime, than counting only on top-down decisions imposed by politicians.
Apart from this, we’re struggling with a growing burden of legal consequences. A lot of our work is now devoted to coordinate the logistics behind more than 150 legal cases. Activists has been sued for entering “closed” parts of the Forest (trespassing), for blocking the work of harvesters (incurring loss for the foresters and/or disturbing public order), occupying public offices of the State Forest Authority (classified as a criminal offence!), blocking the trucks used for removing illegally harvested wood (blocking public roads), etc.
What can you do?
Show solidarity > act, share info, sign the petition Defend Bialowieza Forest
We struggle for protection of the World Heritage Site, our common good. Thus, it’s our common duty to share information, to exert pressure on authorities and media, and to act on streets and online.
Chip-in! > crowd-funding campaign Dla Puszczy – pomagam.pl
We need more funds to secure professional legal aid for Camp’s activists that are facing legal consequences of actively engaging in the Forest protection.
Legal issues are very demanding in financial terms… For the last couple of months activists have been cooperating with the law office that declared a willingness to provide them with legal support (it’s tons of papers, names, and cases to go through). But even despite the discount they were offered, the cost is approximately 80 USD per hour of legal work. Until now, the sum reached over 15,000 USD and not even a quarter of all cases has been solved yet.
Come to work with us in Bialowieza > write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have more time, willingness to help, and maybe some experience in environmental activism, you can join us in the Camp. All the work is done voluntarily, from patrolling, to cooking, cleaning, and taking direct action. Remember to let us know first, write at email@example.com.
We also strongly recommend to choose local housing and local restaurants in order to support the local community which is struggling because of government actions. We need to show the local community that protection of the Forest will be not only environmentally, but also economically significant.
Info on logging in the Forest & planned activities: firstname.lastname@example.org
The camp: email@example.com
Crowd funding campaign: pomagam.pl/dlapuszczy
You can also support the Camp by giving them some necessary things.
Thank you for your support!